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Rugby - 08. February 2009.

England Women kick-start RBS 6 Nations campaign with Italy victory

England 69 Italy 13

Reigning RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam champions England kick-started this season's campaign with an impressive 11 try, 69-13 defeat of Italy at London Welsh RFC today (Saturday).

England Women kick-start RBS 6 Nations campaign with Italy  victory


Gary Street's side, hoping to secure an unprecedented fourth consecutive title, demolished the Italians with young stars Fiona Pocock touching down for a hat-trick and Lichfield's Emily Scarratt grabbing a brace of tries. Vice-captain Katy McLean also kicked 14 points.

England were penalised early on, but with Italian fly-half Veronica Schiavon missing a penalty attempt the scores stayed level at 0-0 until Richmond wing Pocock took a good off-load from Scarratt after she had broken away. McLean converted.

Italy's Schiavon clawed back a penalty for the visitors making the score 7-3 until England captain Catherine Spencer picked-up from the back of a good scrum to barge over the line on ten minutes. McLean again converted.

Richmond's Amy Turner then showed her class when she picked up a poor Italian clearance kick to charge up-field and see off three Italian defenders and touch down. McLean this time missed the conversion but England led 19-3.

On 23 minutes some good hands by the England backs saw fullback Vicky Massarella find a good attacking line to score, before Scarratt took the first of her two tries after a good England line-out on 26 minutes. McLean converted to stretch England's lead to 33-3.

More tries followed for England before the break with Pocock grabbing her second and third tries. Italy, meanwhile, missed a penalty and lost captain Paola Zangirolami to the sin-bin. With McLean adding another conversion England headed into the break leading 45-3.

After the restart, matters went from bad to worse for Italy with them losing a second player to the sin-bin, centre Silvia Peron, but they did manage to add a penalty from the boot of Schiavon, clawing back to a 45-6 deficit.

England meanwhile continued where they left off and punished Italy when a kick didn't make touch and Turner collected. The scrum-half then off-loaded to replacement winger Barras, who scored on virtually her first touch of the ball.

Italy were penalised again for their ill discipline handing England another penalty which McLean decided to kick into touch. England then took a 10 metre line-out and with Richmond's Karen Jones taking the ball she fed it straight back to hooker Amy Garnett who crossed the line to score.

The visitors did have something to celebrate though when on 60 minutes a loose ball from England's Pocock saw fly-half Schiavon pick up and dive over the line to score their first and only try of the afternoon. Schiavon then converted her own try to make the score 55-13.

England weren't deterred and with Scarratt adding her second try and Worcester's Gemma Sharples also touching down the home side clinched a comfortable opening Six Nations victory.

England Head Coach Street said: "This was a good start by my young team. We played some very good rugby at times, and although we have got things to work on, I am more than happy with this victory.

"Today showed me that we have progressed from our game against Ireland in December because we played with more fluidity and control. The youngsters also put their hands up and made their mark on the game.

"To give Italy credit, they played well and kept asking questions of us all the time. They made us work really hard. Wales next week though will be another step-up for us."

England

1 Rochelle Clark (Blaydon Team Northumbria), 2 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Natalie Binstead (Wasps), 5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 7 Lois Moulding (Lichfield), 8 Catherine Spencer (C) (Bristol), 9 Amy Turner (Richmond), 10 Katy McLean (VC) (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 11 Fiona Pocock (Richmond), 12 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol), 13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 14 Francesca Matthews (Richmond), 15 Victoria Massarella (Saracens). Replacements: 16 Samantha Reeve (Worcester), 17 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 18 Gemma Sharples (Worcester), 19 Karen Jones (Richmond), 20 Georgina Rozario (Plymouth Albion), 21 Christina Lee (Bristol), 22 Charlotte Barras (Saracens)

Tries: Pocock (3), Spencer, Turner, Massarella, Scarratt (2), Barras, Garnett, Sharples
Conversions: McLean (7)
Penalties:
Substitutions: Barras on for Massarella, Jones on for McGilchrist (HT), Sharples on for Moulding, Rozario on for Oliver (both 51), Reeve for Garnett, Crowley for Clark, Lee for Turner (all 61)

Italy

1 SANFILIPPO MARIA, 2 STEFAN LICIA, 3 CUCCHIELLA ELISA, 4 PETTINELLI SARA, 5 SEVERIN FLAVIA, 6 ESTE MICHELA, 7 GAUDINO SILVIA, 8 BARBINI MARTINA, 9 COSTA GAIA, 10 SCHIAVON VERONICA, 11 BARATTIN SARA, 12 ZANGIROLAMI PAOLA (C), 13 PERON SILVIA, 14 VERONESE M. DILETTA, 15 FURLAN MANUELA. Replacements: 16 FRANCHIN BARBARA, 17 FABBRI LARA, 18 CAMPANELLA GIULIANA, 19 ZUBLENA CECILIA, 20 BADO GIOVANNA, 21 CIOFFI M.GRAZIA, 22 RENOSTO FEDERICA.

Tries: Schiavon
Conversions: Schiavon
Penalties: Schiavon (2)

Referee: Michael BLACK (IRFU)
Assistant Touch Judges: Richard Massey & Mike Lambert

England Women RBS 6 Nations Fixtures:

Feb 7th England v Italy 13.30 London Welsh RFC
WON 69-13
Feb 14th Wales v England 13.00 Taffs Wells RFC, Cardiff
Feb 27th Ireland v England 19.30 St. Mary's RFC, Dublin
March 15th England v France 13.30 London Welsh RFC
March 21st England v Scotland 13.30 London Welsh RFC
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